As you can see, I retweeted it with my own message and another host responded with her thoughts. With the recent boom in online content, this has become a recurring theme and I thought it was one worthy of exploring. When should you work for free? When should you stop working for free?
Working for free is a good idea if.......
1. Reel: You need material for your reel whether it is for an acting, host, choreography, or directing reel. If you need the footage and this project will add dimension to your portfolio of work, then get on that set and start working.
2. Prestige: The prestige project is an opportunity to jump at whether it is working with a mentor in the business, a celebrity, or a buzzworthy script. It might get you some great press, add new contacts to your address book, and give you some bragging rights that you worked on that piece.
3. Charity: From time to time, you may be asked to perform to benefit a charity. Why would you ever say "no" to helping others? I rest my case.
Image courtesy of Pink Elephant Academy
1. Zero Return: If you have already done a similar project, worked with the same people (and didn't enjoy the experience), or have enough of that genre on your reel. It's time to ask for a paycheck. You have proven your worth in this area, you should be paid for your time.
2. On-Camera Talent: Ah, the creative ones. We are always afraid we will never work again, but it's time we put our foot down on this. While many of the people behind the camera are getting paid, you agreed to work for free. It's a business, people. It's time to use your business acumen and get paid for your work. Like the tweet above states, you are driving rates down for everyone because you are THAT person who will always work for free.
3. Brand: It devalues your brand. You become the always available, always willing to work, and always FREE talent. You cheapen your worth. Don't be that person.
It's understandable in this era of start-ups and online budgets that you may not get your standard TV/Film rates, but it's time you stand up for your work and your worth. Create a rate card with your standard rates to have handy when clients ask. I always believe that rates are negotiable based on the budget on a project to project basis. This is not about trying to make as much money as possible, this is about creating a career filled with meaning and worth that makes sense for your brand.
What are your thoughts on working for free? Is it hurting the entertainment industry? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so comment below or on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +.
Disclaimer: Of course I have worked for free in my career, but I am noticing a trend in the entertainment industry that is a slippery slope to working for free all of the time. Don't do it.